Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard makes her announcement that she is running for president in 2020 at the Great Lawn of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort in Waikiki, Saturday. Young supporters Radha Priya, 6, left, and Braja Lila, 10, wave their Tulsi signs in the crowd.
Speaking for nearly a half hour before a few hundred people, Tulsi Gabbard called President Donald Trump’s administration a “cesspool of corruption” and laid out her support for a progressive domestic agenda that includes Medicare health insurance coverage for all and legalization of marijuana.
Tulsi Gabbard criticized President Trump for campaigning against “regime change wars” when he ran for president in 2016 and then reversing course and bowing “to the wishes of neo-cons that surround him.”
While her domestic policies and criticism of the Republican incumbent are likely to appeal to the Democratic Party’s base, Tulsi Gabbard’s military background and views on foreign policy will likely be what distinguishes her among a growing field of candidates in the Democratic primary.
A major in the Army National Guard, Tulsi Gabbard, 37, did two tours of duty in the Middle East before being elected to Congress in 2012, experience she drew on during Saturday’s speech.
A number of those at the event said they were impressed by Tulsi Gabbard’s military service and her less conventional approach to politics that may appeal to people across the political spectrum.
Crowd of supporters at Tulsi Gabbard's announcement rally included parents Carol and Mike Gabbard.
Tulsi Gabbard shares a hug with her parents Carol and Mike Gabbard following her announcement.
Sarah Simon, 9, and Joilee Haggerty, 10, wore their Girl Scout Troop 530 uniforms as they gave a lei to Tulsi Gabbard at her rally. The girls said it was inspiring to come to the rally because of her being a woman running for president.
Tulsi Gabbard ended her speech with a message of unity, which has already become a central theme of her campaign.
“What our country needs now more than ever is the spirit of aloha, that spirit of respect and love for one another and for our country,” Tulsi Gabbard said. “This is the most precious gift that Hawaii has to offer to our country and the world.”
Crowd of supporters sing Hawaii Aloha at Tulsi Gabbard's announcement rally, including parents Carol and Mike Gabbard, pictured at right.